Jewelry. WTF?

The most common remnant of conspicuous consumption?

I’ve never understood the desire for jewelry. Oh, sure, it can be an accessory to looking nice, similarly to nice clothing. I can understand that. But people could wear “fake” jewelry that looks just as good, but generally this is looked down on. They have to have the real stuff with the high price for some reason.

Most jewelry seems to be stored in a box somewhere and very rarely used - the more expensive, the more often this is true, it seems. People seem to get a thrill out of spending a whole lot of money on something completely useless, something that might be ‘used’, and if that, in a minimal way, very occasionally.

Engagement rings are a pretty bad offender. “Two months salary”? Holy shit, the very idea of working for two months to secure enough money to buy something shiny, something that could easily be faked, but that wouldn’t be a huge waste of money and therefore doesn’t count as a token of affection is just crazy to me. But this phoenomina is extremely common.

If I were a woman, and someone spent a few thousand dollars on a ring for me, I’d slap them in the head and ask them to buy me something useful. Hmm - a shiny ring that’ll be worn for a few months and then put away in a box forever, or a substantial downpayment on a car, or an entertainment center? It always annoyed me too that the engagement ring, something very temporary, was always more expensive and elaborate than the wedding ring, which ideally is what will be worn for much longer.

And the women will of course compare their relative social status by how much money their fiances wasted. “Oh, look at this huge diamond! My fiance threw away much more money on something useless than yours did. I’m better than you. Ha.”

I just don’t get it. I don’t really get conspicuous consumption in general, but most instances of that are fairly limited to a small segment of society - the desire (and in marriage, the demand) for jewelry seems nearly universal.

You slipped up and listed an entertainment center as a valid thing to spend $1000 on.

I am a woman, and I totally agree. What makes it even worse is that most commercial diamonds (and other gems) are mined under truly horrendous slavery conditions in Africa. People die every day at those mines, either because of work conditions or because of the cruelty of their masters. Giving someone a diamond ring is like saying “here, honey, I killed some poor African for you, will you marry me?” Not that fetching, bub.

I also just don’t like the look of jewelry. I wear stainless steel hoops in my ears occasionally, and I’d probably wear a wedding band, but I think the majority of jewelry looks tacky and I’d be totally paranoid about losing it. Also a lot of jewelry interferes with my everyday tasks–bracelets would get caught in knitting, necklaces would bang against my chest when I run. Any jewelry I got would just be shoved in a box somewhere except on special occasions, and I think that is dumb.

Hey, at least it’s something you’d use every day, unlike a heavy diamond necklace.

Why? It’s something that people will use and take enjoyment from for a long time. It’s certainly a more productive use than something decorative that will rarely even be seen.

This weekend I was walking around LACMA in the South Asian antiquities floor and I realised that half the “priceless” shit in the glass display cases looks almost exactly like stuff I happen to own. God knows how many years and my peeps are still putting out last century’s styles.

Anyway, most of my jewellry is hand-hammered in the third world, probably under the influence of bhang and the honeyed tones of Lata Mangeshkar. And man does it rock. It’s still an artisan trade in many parts of the world and I enjoy my wearable art.

Oh yeah, and my parents pitch a fit if I don’t go out with my metallic uniform

  1. Large hoop earrings
  2. Bangle
  3. guru ring
  4. necklace

I usually throw on some anklets and toe-rings for good measure. Tacksville, that’s definitely moi.

Maybe I see different people from you folks, but every day at school, I’d see girls (and occasionally guys) loaded down with jewelry of some kind or another. That stuff was never put away. It got lots of use.

I have a metallic uniform of my own, though I don’t wear it much these days. All plain, inexpensive silver, nearly all purchased by me. If someone bought me a gaudy diamond something-or-other, all that would say is that they don’t know anything about me.

There are some people who derive a great deal of satisfaction from collecting objects such as baseball cards, stamps, rare books, Disney memorabilia, etc. As odd as it may sound many of these people derive just as much pleasure (productivity) from these collections as you might with your entertainment system.

A lot of jewelry, such as wedding rings, are worn almost daily for many decades of an individual’s life. My parent’s rings certainly outlasted furniture, homes, and automobiles. They can even act as herilooms as they are passed down from generation to generation. If you don’t like jewelry that’s fine I’m not here to convince you otherwise. In fact, I’m not big of jewelry myself, but let’s not kid ourselves by thinking we’re somehow better because we spend our money on different things.

Marc

Not really a call for opinions, and rather weak for a rant.
Moving thread from IMHO to MPSIMS.

You know who started the custom of diamond engagement rings, right?

DeBeers. :wink:

I’m not arguing about your main point. I just don’t understand the idea that an engagement ring won’t be worn for very long. A lot of the women I know wear both rings together all the time. Is this a regional thing maybe, or are my friends and family just weird?

Nope, I wear mine. So do all the other married women I know.

When my husband and I got engaged, I didn’t want an engagement ring. I wear a wedding ring–like you, I think that’s more important. Also, it’s more fair; we bought them for each other. But a lot of people think I was crazy to turn down an engagement ring.

Now that we both have real jobs, he sometimes buys me a pretty piece of jewelry for a special occasion. He picks them out himself, and they’re gifts rather than expected items. I treasure them. Maybe you wouldn’t approve of that, either; I don’t know.

Everyone I know who got an engagement ring, though, still wears it. And in fifty years, that engagement ring will still be a ring. That entertainment center will probably be a broken pile of junk. Even if it still works, probably no one will still make anything in the right format any more. The car will have better longevity, but not nearly as much as the ring.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t buy an entertainment center instead if the two of you will enjoy snuggling in front of the TV. Personally, I enjoy thinking of my husband whenever I look at my left hand. As other posters have mentioned, it’s an individual choice.

I haven’t taken my engagement ring off since my husband slippped it on my finger.

I wear my jewelry for two reasons. Because I just like it, or because I like it AND it has emotional attachment for me.

My grandmother was in a care facility for the last years of her life because we could no longer care for her at home. She was failing, and losing weight. One day, she told me that her wedding ring kept slipping off her finger and she was afraid she would lose it. She asked me to take it, since she’d want me to have it anyway…when she passed. I wear it on the middle finger of my right hand. It is just a gold band, no diamond. But I feel connected to my grandmother, and the ring is a symbol of that. When my mom died, I had her mother’s ring and her wedding band resized so I could wear them on the middle finger of my left hand. I had bought her the mother’s ring as a gift some years before, and the wedding band is the one she committed her love to my father with. Again with the gold rings. My sister got the one with the diamonds…the only one worth actual money. Mom and Dad didn’t have enough money for a diamond when they got married, in fact they didn’t have ANY money at the time. But dad bought her a really awesome diamond ring later. It was my choice to take the essentially valueless [sub]to anyone else[/sub] rings, because to ME they are priceless. My sister and I do not view these things the same way, and although she has the valuable diamond ring, I have never seen her wear it. I assume that it is, as you talked about in your OP, tucked away somewhere. I’m not saying she didn’t love my mom, because she DID. Everyone views these things differently. Again, I’m connected so much to my mom…and I wear these rings because I loved her so much and I also like them. They are yellow gold, which I love. And yellow gold works best with my skin tones. I know platinum gold is more valuable, but it makes my skin look like death. I got lucky in that the jewelry that means the most to me works BEST for me.

I also wear a ring given to me by my first love. He had it made in such a way that when we got engaged, a stone could be added and it could be our engagement ring. NOT a diamond, BTW. I am more of a sapphire or emerald kind of girl. Things didn’t work out, my fault mostly. Still, I love the ring and I’ll always love him. I screwed up, we moved on…but it doesn’t mean that what we had was trashed. It wasn’t. AND…I love the ring. So I wear it.

I wear thin gold hoops in my ears, just because I like them. I never take them off. I have tons of earrings, gifts and ones I bought for myself. I love them, too…but I can wear these all the time and they don’t stab me when I sleep…so I almost never wear anything else. Lazy, I suppose.

I also never take off my necklace. It is a sturdy but relatively thin gold chain that has charms representing things that matter to me: a memorial teardrop for my mom and brother [sub]who died a year after my mom[/sub] a guardian angel charm from a good friend who sent it to me after my brother died from the same kind of cancer that killed my mom [sub]“honey, if ever anyone needed a guardian angel, YOU do…”[/sub] a moon and stars charm I love just because and a Colorado Gold heart charm…just because I loved it so I got one for my niece one Christmas and thought I should have one too. Because I just loved it.

I personally believe that jewelry should be an expression of who you are, and I believe my jewelry is that. Still, if you have the money to spare and you feel like spending it on diamonds, why shouldn’t you? It isn’t any different than spending money on anything else frivolous.

What I DON’t understand is this compulsion for people who DON’T have money to spare to be spending it on an expensive diamond ring. One of my friend’s husband waited until he could afford a “good” ring before he proposed. Now, whatever. BUT…after he paid off his debts so he could afford a “good” ring, they started their married life with nothing, moneywise. And when he was paying all of his debt off and buying the ring and paying for it, I asked the bride-to-be if it wouldn’t be better to spend the money in such a way that it would contribute to their life together in a practical way, rather than spending it on an expensive ring. And she looked at me like I was an idiot and said “a diamond is an INVESTMENT, Cheri.” Well, maybe so. I guess I am an idiot, but it seems to ME that a diamond isn’t going to be much of an investment if the country has a major recession and no one wants to BUY your diamond. PLUS…how could you part with your WEDDING RING?

I don’t get it. But then, as I said, we all have our own way of looking at these things.
Which brings me to the next subject. Expensive weddings.

Now, I understand that everyone wants to make their wedding memorable…both to the couple, and to the people who love them and want to celebrate their marriage. BUT…I cannot personally understand spending a zillion dollars on a wedding, and a ring, and then renting for the next ten years before (possibly never) you can afford to buy a home. It is their choice and decision, but…for me it makes no sense. I have been to so many wonderful weddings that were relatively inexpensive. All that matters, really, is that you share your moment with the people you love in a way that you are happy with. Well, of course, if you are only happy with spending a lot of money for this that and the next thing, then okay. I’m not judging, I just don’t understand it. I’d rather get a nice gold band, get married in an intimate ceremony with a potluck and buy a house.

I know. I’m lame.

That would be me then. My favorite gift from a boyfriend was a really expensive (well for books it was) computer book. He made my heart melt a few times by doing/getting me car stuff.

I might have felt that way when I was a very young naive fresh out of high school girl. But now? I know what fancy trappings can hide. Money spent has absolutely NOTHING to do with the success of a relationship.

Therefore, it would be a man’s actions that would, if at all, make me compare my “status” with others. That is, bragging about how great a husband I had, in the ways that truly count. His love, cuddliness, intelligence, all that stuff.

Nothing wrong with bragging, but jewelry? Anyone can get it with “mere” money. Brains, character, loyalty and intelligence (to name a few), now THOSE are things a man can bring to the relationship that are WORTH bragging on him for. (I know, I know…bad sentence structure :D)

Symbolism gone awry?

I must be an incredibly selfish person. No surprise there, actually.

I love my diamond jewels. I have my diamond eng/wed ring, a 3-stone 1.75 ct right-hand ring and a pair of 1.5 ct earrings. I lost my original eng/wed & rt hand ring a few years back and mourned them deeply. I quickly replaced the eng/wed bands and a bit later got a new right hand ring. I’ve even upgraded the diamonds twice on my engagement ring. Thing is, with the 3-stone and the earrings, they were my child-bearing gifts. I got the ring for the first kid and the earrings for the second one popped out. So, all told, about $10k invested in jewels including the ones lost. It could’ve bought a new-old car, but I get vast enjoyment out of what I have. I wear them everyday and only remove to clean or do nasty household jobs.

I’ve studied and researched diamonds and learned a lot before purchasing the earrings. I don’t care so much about size as I do about quality. I want a nice clear stone that sparkles and has depth. If anyone is purchasing, check out diamondsafe dot com. Their diamond are certified as NOT being cartel. They have excellent return/exchange policies and clearly identify the quality of their products. Pretty good prices too.

I like that my husband buys nice jewelry for me. I have found that having good jewelry to wear actually saves money, because I don’t buy any junk jewelry anymore. I wear my engagement/wedding ring, a sapphire and diamond ring, and gold earrings daily. I have other things to wear for special occasions. I never had nice jewelry much before, and I enjoy having it now.

A couple I know got married right out of college. They were broke, of course, as most young couples in that situation are.

The man made a ring out of tin foil for his then-girlfriend when he asked her to marry him. She had the tinfoil ring coated in plastic, and still wears it proudly, ten years later. She told me women have asked her if he was ever going to replace it with a “real” ring. It always bemuses her, because that little piece of tinfoil means more to her than the Hope Diamond.

You make a mistake in assuming women like jewelry just so they can lord it over other women and think they’re better. Maybe some do. But I treasure my beautiful jewelry and know that my husband preferred to buy high-quality gems (rather than fakes) because he values me. They are beautiful and I enjoy them very much. Wearing jewelry isn’t some modern affectation. People have been adorning themselves since time out of mind. If you choose not to, that is your choice. But assuming people do things for the reasons you came up with on your own is a mistake.